Shortly after graduating from college at Utah Valley University, I had the privilege of returning to my alma mater to serve as a Personal Assistant to Dr. Bruce H. Jackson, then Director of The Center for the Advancement of Leadership (the CAL) at UVU. It was a formative job that provided me with priceless professional opportunities that further strengthened the career foundation upon which I continue to build with SAL and Freedom Focused today.
One of the most memorable things I had the chance to do while serving Dr. Jackson at the CAL was to escort a former Miss America -- Sharlene Wells Hawkes -- during our annual leadership conference in 2004. Mrs. Hawkes was crowned Miss America twenty years previously and honorably represented the United States throughout 1985 in that highly esteemed role.
I'm still not sure how I managed to land such a coveted assignment that day, especially when Dr. Jackson had two personal assistants and the other guy -- another young man the same age as me -- was my hierarchical equal; but I certainly didn't complain about being assigned the task!
Aside from being beautiful and talented -- two qualities that are a given for anyone who has held the title "Miss America" -- there were other qualities I discovered about Mrs. Hawkes that were even more salient and impressive than her talent and beauty. First of all, despite her confident bearing and obvious social prestige, she was kind and respectful to little old me -- and everyone else she met at UVU that day. All during our time together, I never got the sense that she looked down on me -- or anyone else for that matter. Second, she possessed an enthusiasm and cheerfulness that was electric and infectious. One would have had to try very hard to be negative or pessimistic in her presence, not that she would have explicitly shot one down if one tried, but her aura of positivity would have simply overpowered anything to the contrary. This enthusiasm, cheerfulness, and optimism made me feel empowered around her -- a trait I have discovered that all great leaders share. Suffice it to say, I was impressed, and these impressions have remained clear in my mind and heart to this very day -- nearly 16 years after the fact.
In short, she was a Class Act in every imaginable way.
In intervening years, Sharlene and I have kept in loose contact with each other. She was kind enough to provide an endorsement quote for the first version of the SAL textbook I published back in 2006. In addition, her 14-year old daughter (at the time) served as a peer-reviewer for the same text, which was written for a teenage audience.
Recently, I touched base with Sharlene again. She has not changed a bit, and even though our most recent conversation occurred only virtually via LinkedIn, I could tell she remains as cheerful, enthusiastic, positive, and active as ever. And once again, she generously accepted my invitation to contribute an endorsement quote for my work, this time for the current (2019) version of the Self-Action Leadership Textbooks.
Here is what she had to say:
"Since I was crowned Miss America in 1984, I have had the opportunity to travel all over the world to meet with countless leaders, educators, and families. In doing so, I have noticed that the attributes that factor most greatly in the long-term success of individuals and groups -- like personal character and the ability to lead and influence others in positive and productive ways -- are not taught in homes to the same degree that they were when I was growing up.
If students don't learn these things in their homes, schools become the "next defense" and maybe even their "last best hope" to obtain them before entering the professional workforce. Unfortunately, schools these days often shirk their duty in this regard as well. As such, I am thrilled to see that Jordan has dedicated his career to bridging this glaring pedagogical gap and meeting this much-needed character component in schools, universities, and organizations. I heartily endorse Dr. Jensen's work and encourage leaders, administrators, and educators everywhere to embrace Self-Action Leadership in their states, districts, schools, and organizations."
- Sharlene Wells Hawkes - Miss America, 1985
If you have not already done so, I invite you to procure a copy of the Self-Action Leadership textbooks. Read and study the books yourself. Then complete the SAL Master Challenge and earn your own medal and diploma along the way. Finally, tell your family members, friends, and local educators about this unique and unprecedented resource for teaching self-leadership, character, and life-skills' oriented curriculum in homes, schools, communities, and organizations everywhere. I promise you that your life, and the lives of others, will be positively and productively impacted as a result. How do I know this? Because my own life is what it is because of my own commitment to the principles and practices outlined therein.